The Soldier's Wife
Author: Margaret Leroy
Published: June 28, 2011
Genre: historical fiction
Paperback: 416 pages
Source: borrowed from the library
My Rating: 3 stars
Synopsis (from goodreads.com): As World War II draws closer and closer to Guernsey, Vivienne de la Mare knows that there will be sacrifices to be made. Not just for herself, but for her two young daughters and for her mother-in-law, for whom she cares while her husband is away fighting. What she does not expect is that she will fall in love with one of the enigmatic German soldiers who take up residence in the house next door to her home. As their relationship intensifies, so do the pressures on Vivienne. Food and resources grow scant, and the restrictions placed upon the residents of the island grow with each passing week. Though Vivienne knows the perils of her love affair with Gunther, she believes that she can keep their relationship and her family safe. But when she becomes aware of the full brutality of the Occupation, she must decide if she is willing to risk her personal happiness for the life of a stranger.
My Thoughts: I love World War II fiction, so the premise of this book pulled me in immediately. I don't know that much about the island of Guernsey, but think that it's a fascinating part of the war that isn't discussed all that much. Margaret Leroy's writing is very descriptive and she paints a clear picture of what life would be like on the island during Occupation. She uses little dialogue, instead relying on the scenery and Vivienne's thoughts and perceptions to tell the story. While I did wish for more dialogue at times, I found that I really got to know Vivienne more because she was continually describing her fear and what she was experiencing.
I loved Leroy's story, but there is a part of this novel that is missing from the description of the book, and something that really made the book for me. While Vivienne's affair with a German officer offers a great story, the other plotline is Vivienne's daughter finding a "ghost" in a barn, which turns out to be a prisoner from a war camp. This story is so great and is overshadowed by her love affair. Think about it: Guernsey is an island, and Vivienne decides that she will help this prisoner. Either one of them could be caught and killed by the Germans, but they decide to risk it. It's a great story, and it's this plotline that makes the book for me.
I liked this book, but didn't love it. I felt like it was slow at some points and too weighed down with descriptions. Also, I feel like the title is a bit inaccurate, because there is very little about Vivienne's husband in the book. If you like WWII fiction, then it might be worth it to check it out and learn more about Guernsey's role in the war.